Jun 4, 2010

NPR, on the cutting edge of silliness

By now you've probably heard about NPR President Vivian Schiller's controversial remarks about the future of radio at D8, the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference. But you may not have seen the hilarious video that introduced those remarks. Check it out, in all its "NPRness," here. ("Auto-Tuned Things Considered." Heh.)

Chicago's WTTW to reduce staff by 12 percent

WTTW-Channel 11 will let go 12 percent of its staff, between 25 and 30 positions, due to poor corporate underwriting and a $1.25 million cutback in state funding, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Station President and CEO Dan Schmidt said early retirement packages will be offered first, then layoffs. Schmidt also said executive compensation would be reduced 5 percent more, bringing the two-year reduction in top management salaries to 10 percent. A companywide salary freeze from 2009 will stay in effect until 2011. WTTW also will close its employee cafeteria. Also, on the radio side, $200,000 in expense cutbacks are planned next year due to soft sponsorship.

Ken Burns lucks into opening pitch for historic game

Here's a nice bit of publicity for PBS's upcoming "Tenth Inning": Docmeister Ken Burns will toss the first pitch at the long-awaited debut game of Nationals phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg, according to the Washington Post's D.C. Sports Blog. The date for Strasburg's first major league shifted several times, and luckily Burns had been scheduled to appear at Nationals Park on June 8. The game is sold out, although online resale sites have a few remaining tickets for up to $1,000. Yes, for one ticket.

Web analysis mentoring program assists

A unique mentoring program provided PBS with analytics and advice for, reports Internet Retailer. The digital analysis firm Web Analytics Demystified last month began the Analysis Exchange project to "provide training in web analytics to students and build up the industry’s base of analytics experts," said founder and CEO Eric Peterson. "There are not enough qualified, experienced people doing web analytics in business." The students, many of whom are already Internet professionals, receive training in web analytics and then research nonprofit websites for no cost to the organization. At PBS, the study found that, for example, the StumbleUpon recommendation site was generating the most traffic from social media for, but wasn't sending visitors that were highly engaged once they arrived. Other information included data on bounce rates and average time on site. The students also gave PBS advice on how to build stronger engagement on the site. Kevin Dando, PBS director of digital communications told Current that the process was very instructive, "and gave us quite a lot of valuable, tangible information that we incorporated into our thinking right away."

Shapiro takes on Apple's uncharitable policy

Jake Shapiro of Public Radio Exchange challenges Apple's prohibition on iPhone applications that solicit donations for charitable causes in a guest article for Ars Technica. "The excuse that 'Apple doesn't want to be held responsible for ensuring that the charitable funds make it to the final destination' is a cop-out," Shapiro writes. "Apple, of all companies, can’t credibly say it’s not up to the technical and logistical challenge." The policy presents an "acute problem" for public media, which depends on listener contributions to support content that is "hugely popular" across Apple's iTunes and iPhone/iPad platforms. Shapiro is responding to Ars Technica's earlier reporting on how iPhone users reacted to "push notification" fundraising appeals from This American Life.